Current opinion in urology 2017: focal therapy of small renal lesions

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Purpose of review

With the increasing incidence of small renal masses (SRMs), ablative technologies are becoming more commonly utilized. With any nascent treatment modality, outcomes literature needs to be constantly re-evaluated. The purpose of this review is to revisit the most updated literature regarding the safety and efficacy of ablative treatments of renal lesions.

Recent findings

Recent literature demonstrates that small renal tumor ablation is safe and effective. Although it does not have the same oncological efficacy of surgical extirpation, local recurrence-free survival has consistently shown to be around 90%. Cryoablation and radiofrequency ablation have longer-term data demonstrating durable responses. Microwave ablation and irreversible electroporation are promising modalities with longer-term data coming. Complication rates and procedural morbidity of ablation are consistently lower than for partial nephrectomy.


Image-guided focal ablation is a valuable tool in the management of SRMs. Although it does not have the same efficacy of surgical extirpation, with the ability to perform repeat procedures and salvage surgery if necessary, oncologic outcomes are comparable to those of upfront surgery. Ultimately, longer-term studies and prospective trials are needed to further elucidate these modalities.

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